College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Forbes Ranks UM Among Nation’s 20 Best College Buys

With the start of the fall semester only a couple of weeks away, the University of Mississippi has picked up a new accolade for its academic programs, climbing into the Top 20 of Forbes’ “Best Buy Colleges.”

The list is part of the annual America’s Best Colleges section, which includes several rankings and data on 650 colleges and universities. After being ranked No. 24 last year, UM moved up to No. 20 on this year’s list, just behind the University of North Florida.

“It’s gratifying to receive this significant recognition,” UM Chancellor Dan Jones said. “This affirms what students from around the country are discovering about the University of Mississippi. I am grateful to our fine faculty, our committed staff and every person involved in supporting our university on the pathway to remarkable progress.”

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, in conjunction with Forbes, compiled the list using five general categories: student satisfaction, which includes freshman-to-sophomore retention rates and faculty evaluations; postgraduate success, which measures alumni job placement, pay and professional achievement; student debt, with penalties for high debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rate; and competitive awards, including prestigious scholarships such as the Rhodes, Truman and Marshall.

The rankings are designed to assist families in choosing a college based on getting the most quality for their tuition dollars. The top three on the list are unchanged from last year: the United States Military Academy, Air Force Academy and Naval Academy, all of which have zero tuition. Cooper Union, which provides scholarships for all its students, is No. 4.

The University of Florida, at No. 11, is the only other Southeastern Conference school in the Top 20.

As state funding for higher education has declined over the last two decades, college tuition and fees have soared nationwide.

The University of Mississippi has several programs to help ease the costs of higher education for families. For example, the university annually awards hundreds of Luckyday Scholarships, ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 a year. And the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship program, launched in 2010, provides financial aid support for tuition, housing and meals.

“Being a recipient of the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship gave me an opportunity to further my education,” said Gabbi Wilson, a sophomore from Tylertown majoring in exercise science. “Coming from a single parent home, it would have extremely difficult for my mother to pay for my college tuition. But thanks to the Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship, my college tuition is guaranteed to be paid and allows me a chance to better myself.”

More than 100 students came to UM last fall under the program, and nearly 190 students have been awarded new Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarships for the upcoming fall semester.

The Forbes honor is the latest in a series of accolades for UM in recent months.

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently picked UM for the third consecutive year as one of the top 10 Great Colleges To Work For among colleges with more than 10,000 students. And last week, the university was included in the “Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012,” which profiles the top 300 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

For more information, read the Forbes Report.